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Oklahoma hospitals treating record number of COVID-19 patients

Posted at 2:38 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 18:22:33-05

TULSA, Okla. — As COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Oklahoma, state hospitals are feeling the brunt of the impact.

“The entire state is essentially in tier three which means that 20 to 39% of the available staff beds are occupied by a COVID patient," said Matt Stacey, Oklahoma State Department of Health Surge Plan Advisor.

Hospital capacity is difficult to nail down because it fluctuates every hour of every day.

“We work closely with the Oklahoma Hospital Association who represents the majority of hospitals in the state to develop that plan and directly with the hospital CEO's, to decide where those tiers are those interventions,” said Stacey.


The tier 3 plan looks like this:

  • Hospitals are to cut back on some surgeries
  • Specialty surgical and post-acute care facilities can accept patients that don’t need immediate care
  • The state to request a catastrophic health emergency
  • Gives the Governor the option of issuing an executive order reducing elective procedures by 50%.

So far the Governor has not made that order because of concerns over patient outcomes down the road.

“As of today, hospitals are still performing elective surgeries and continue to be able to do so," Stacey said.

KJRH viewer Coy Wilson and his wife spent more than 12 hours waiting to get into a local hospital ER. Wilson’s wife had COVID-like symptoms.

“They were already saying that there was no, there was no COVID beds available, that’s what they were, COVID beds is what they call them,” said Wilson.

Fortunately, Wilson’s wife tested negative for Coronavirus but he said the amount of time they waited for care and the lack of beds is concerning.

St. Francis currently treating an all- time high of 269 COVID patients within it’s hospital system as of the week ending January 8th. Hillcrest hospital was treating a record high of 132 COVID patients as of that same week the hospital operating near 98% capacity. OSU Medical Center has between 30 to 35% of beds filled with COVID patients.

We spoke with a doctor at St. Anthony’s in Shawnee who said he’s seen the state hit zero available beds.

“I realized after I made that list, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is bad,’ nobody has any beds anywhere,” said Dr. Carlos Cabrera Jr.

READ MORE: Oklahoma doctor sounds alarm over lack of ICU beds

Stacey said currently the majority of the decisions on whether to cut back on procedures or adding beds is being left up to hospitals but if things get much worse there is space in specialty care facilities.

“We're ready to put in stronger interventions if we need to but certainly, we want to limit, to any extent possible, we want to limit in any way we impact the freedoms of Oklahomans to continue to live their lives and just assure them that we have the resources to treat them when they get COVID.”said Stacey.

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